Ep. #961 - Activism: How Taking A Stand Builds Your Brand
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is all about activism and brand building. Lauren Conaway welcomes our guest, Nidhi Lucky Handa, to the podcast. As the founder and CEO of LEUNE, she gives an honest talk on the unique challenges faced by a cannabis business. She also shares her story of getting involved to help change the public’s perception of cannabis.
Covered In This Episode
Even with the medicinal benefits of cannabis, the industry hasn’t been streamlined or studied profoundly. So to create a win-win solution, Nidhi and LEUNE are finding ways to innovate, advocate, and disrupt the cannabusiness scene.
And Nidhi discusses her insights with Lauren on how she built the brand and the challenges she conquered along the way. And how the company plays as an activist for positive changes in the market. Tidbits on their core values as a company and their moral obligation as a social impact venture are also in their conversation.
This is an exciting episode about cannabusiness. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode.
- A series of fortunate events in Nidhi’s entrepreneurial journey (02:20)
- How did Nidhi build the brand? (03:56)
- Being an early adapter in unprecedented times for cannabusiness (04:20)
- Consumer habits in cannabusiness (06:02)
- On building and buying on brand (08:07)
- The tactical piece of LEUNE and what it does (11:13)
- The issue in using cannabinoids (14:13)
- Nidhi’s organization, its advocacy, and activism (20:04)
- Core principles of business operation(24:28)
- Moral imperative in business as a social impact venture (30:37)
- LEUNE as a business with a calling (32:05)
- On going against the grain (34:55)
- Imposing parental leave even for those who are historically excluded (38:33)
- Alignment with your team and in everything you do (40:51)
There’s been no federally funded research on the cannabis plant in this country for decades. So, you know, luckily, we have other countries who have been researching this plant and finding some pretty phenomenal things about it.– Nidhi Lucky Handa
What’s fantastic to me is the fact that you have found a way. And Leune has found a way to tie this very holistic, very helpful but much-maligned plant and marry it to that social justice piece.– Lauren Conaway
Some licenses are given out at the government level. A certain percentage of them in most legal states are reserved for folks who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. Those people could be children of people who have been in jail or people who were put in prison for, you know, something like having a joint in their pocket. It is a really important right to allow those folks to be successful in this industry or to be part of that solution.– Nidhi Lucky Handa
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:00
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And today, we are gonna let you know that our episode sponsor is FullScale.io. We love Full Scale; they are the reason why Startup Hustle exists. Of course, we’re partial to them. But we are also partial to them because Full Scale understands that hiring software developers can be difficult. Full Scale can step right in, so they can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. They have a platform to help you manage that team. They are going to streamline that process for you and help you put together an amazing team to roll out your technical projects and products, and initiatives. They just do amazing work. And we are very fortunate to have them. Now, we are also very fortunate to have today’s guest. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about why I’m so excited. So some of you may know, if you’ve listened to the episodes before, we talk a lot about things like social justice and social impact. And today’s entrepreneur has such an amazing story to tell. And I’m really excited to drill down into Nidhi Lucky Handa. And Nidhi is the CEO and founder of Leune, a very innovative company with an interesting model. But we’re gonna talk a lot about that. So I just want to say, Nidhi, thank you so much for joining us.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 01:30
Thank you so much, Lauren. I’m so happy to be here.
Lauren Conaway 01:33
Good. Yay. Okay, well, let’s go ahead and get started. And I’m just going to ask you a simple question. Tell us about your journey.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 01:42
Wow, okay. Well, my journey started way back years ago. I was born in London, and I grew up on the east coast of this country. I followed what is a very, I think, traditional east coast upbringing. Prep school, college, you know, straight and narrow. I think 80% of my friends ended up doctors, lawyers, and bankers. And somehow made my way to the West Coast, eventually Los Angeles, and happened to find myself in the right place at the right time when cannabis was recreationally legalized. Here in California, I live in LA. I was right in the center of what is the cannabis universe. And, you know, my real passion in my career has always been a brand. So I find myself in Los Angeles in what is the cannabis center of the world, when cannabis becomes recreationally legalized. And as somebody who is incredibly passionate about brands, I am just so curious but also inspired by what is going to come about in this space. This is one of the most unique business challenges, how to bring something that has been illicit into the legal space. But it is definitely not new in any way. And then also, how do you build a brand for, you know, products that consumers have been purchasing? Mostly in a little plastic bag. So that’s sort of the journey. One aspect of the journey, I should say, that, I think, is interesting about me.
Lauren Conaway 03:34
Yeah. Well, that’s fascinating. And I love the fact that you would consider yourself an early adopter. I mean, the fact is that cannabusiness has always been around. You know, but to your point, it hasn’t been streamlined. It hasn’t been branded. It hasn’t been like we are kind of at an unprecedented time in history when it comes to cannabusiness. Would you agree?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 03:55
Absolutely. I mean, I think for the average person, which is 99.9% of people who don’t exist inside this industry, it’s maybe not really apparent how bifurcated and disjointed this industry is. We are operating inside an ecosystem where this plan is still federally illicit. And it is legalized on a state-by-state basis. So as somebody running a business, those complexities are not only brand new. There are really no other products like that. But these are very basic, like we have no banking in our industry, you know, getting money is really difficult.
Lauren Conaway 04:45
And so we actually have Startup Hustle TV. One of our subtle Startup Hustle TV hosts is Heather, and Heather owns KC Hemp and Co., so they do a lot. They do things like CBD gummies. It isn’t things like that, but Heather has long been an activist and advocates for legalization. And she was, she’ll come to us with nightmares, just telling us about how, you know, she tried to post an ad on Facebook to sell a CBD gummy or something like that. And they wouldn’t let her do it or, you know, PayPal having to hold funds because, you know, she’s involved in canna-business. And so, it must be really difficult for founders and entrepreneurs who are not only trying to build a business but also trying to change the public perception around this hot-button issue. Right?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 05:37
Yeah, it’s, it’s really, you know, so so a lot of those things. I mean, the analogy, I think a lot of us in the industry uses, you know, we’re flying a plane and building the engine at the same time. Yeah, and I think the best way to think about it, everything is happening at the same time. Such people like me are building brands that, you know, I believe that brand will be the most interesting and relevant part of the supply chain. In recent, you know, future as well as like long term when this becomes federally legal, because I am a real CPG person, I believe that consumer habits in any consumable vertical will look the same that they look in cannabis with some variances like it won’t be, you know, nothing is apples to apples, but it will be very, very similar. And then, you know, having said that, there is just like this really, really like all of these, it feels like to the point of the friend that you mentioned, at every corner, you turn, you know, you want to do a good job, build a business, you want to make sure that the business is, you know, following the rules, you know, to me, it’s very important to build something that has no skeletons in its closet, I’m not trying to do anything the wrong way. I’m also up against a regulatory ecosystem that is also being built at the same time. So there’s room for mistakes to happen. At every level, we have to work together. And sometimes that becomes difficult because we have, you know, all kinds of issues that don’t even touch the consumer, right? The consumer, I say, in cannabis is the best-behaved part of the supply chain. And I am one of those consumers I, you know, I buy on brand. The things that I value are quality and consistency, aesthetics, and thin. These are the things that I look for. I think that we can say that largely, particularly in any CPG space. That is true. But what the consumer doesn’t see or understand is all the things happening behind the scenes, you know, in California, it’s an incredibly beautiful ecosystem to grow cannabis outside, which, you know, is the ideal way to grow this plant cannot take that plan from California to any other state. Right, we wrote most of it. Right? So it’s like, no, as a brand, we are, you know, we started in California, we’re now in California, Arizona, Maine, about to launch Missouri and a half dozen other markets in the coming months. And you know, what didn’t even just say that? Why would it be like that? Because I have to look for supply chains in every market, I can’t take, you know, supply chains from California to Missouri, everything to be unique. So it’s, you know, you can imagine the complexity that comes from the regulatory bodies are different, which means that the packaging is probably going to have to look different. There are, you know, it’s like all of these individual free-ish agents are creating their own rules. And hopefully, they’re learning from each other and trying to, you know, trying to find a sort of happy middle, but sometimes they’re not. And sometimes, you know, they’re just these arbitrary rules that a regulator in a random market is like, I think this is a good idea. And for everyone else in the ecosystem, it’s a challenge for scale. So yeah, there’s a myriad of things that make this business complicated. Having said that, it’s also the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. It’s, you know, I’m passionate about this plan. And you know, you mentioned social justice reform, that’s something that is very close to my heart and important to me, and I feel like working in this industry. The idealist in me believes that we can build an industry that we can be really proud of. And to me, what that means is righting the wrongs of how this plant has been used as a weapon for so many years to keep people in prison. And, you know, fortunately, we’re at a time where that’s no longer a debatable fact. That is just a fact.
Lauren Conaway 10:13
Well, and that’s really, really, I feel like that’s kind of the crux of the conversation that we’re about to have. But I want to slow us down for just a minute because what we haven’t done is we haven’t really talked about the tactical piece of Leune. So we’ve kind of talked about the industry broadly, you know, the many changes that are happening as a result of that, but first things first, you know, tell us about Leune. What exactly does Leune do?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 10:41
So Leune is a lifestyle brand that is centered around cannabis. So there are cannabis products, there are cannabis products, and all kinds of verticals, from jarred flower and disposable vaporizers to pre-rolled joints and rosin gummies. So all kinds of cannabis products. And then there’s another part of the business, which is also just cannabis-related accessories and things that have to do with the lifestyle of cannabis. And in addition, we put out a quarterly magazine that we call ominously grown. And that’s really a piece of the puzzle if we don’t have enough work going on here. This is, which is really, I think, a beautiful kind of explanation of what the point of this brand is, which is to it as an industry, we understand that what we’re all fighting against is this, like, big monster of stigma. You know, we don’t know statistically that people consume cannabis and have been pretty much from the beginning of time, and they probably won’t stop there, that we all have to be very mindful, thoughtful, and conscious about that stigma curve, right? So how people think about this plant as not something demonized or even vice, but something that is natural and something that is because we’ve all been conditioned, particularly in the West, because of the political sort of ramifications of this plan. We’ve been conditioned to think of this. As you know, we were all taught Oh, this is a gateway drug, despite the fact that that really shows us this is actually a gateway drug that we can double-click into later. But saLeune is really what I’m really passionate about with this brand is bringing those conversations into the fore in a way that helps the stigma go down. So for that consumer who’s really curious and also ready to consume in the legalized markets, but they don’t see themselves represented, right, Stoner culture, which has been the most pervasive thing, and cannabis doesn’t make a lot of space for a young professional or somebody with a high functioning lifestyle, or a mom who you know is going to soccer practice for her kids and hides.
Lauren Conaway 13:12
There’s definitely an archetype of, you know, somebody who’s sitting on the couch playing video games with Cheeto dust on their fingers, you know, smoking the ganja. So I can see there’s definitely a stereotype associated with that. And I think, uh, you know, to your point, as we’ve all learned, marijuana cannabis can fit into people’s lives pretty seamlessly. I would say I don’t know what your thoughts are.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 13:41
Oh, for sure. I mean, I’m certainly biased.
Lauren Conaway 13:46
Well, and I know I always go to, you know, say like, I have anxiety, you know, and, and cannabis is a proven treatment to help folks who experience anxiety, you know, we’re talking, we’re talking about a plant that has so many myriad uses. I almost wonder how it fell out of it. Well, I actually know a little bit about how it fell out of favor. Thank you. But, yeah, I like it. It has transformed formative powers there. Yeah. That’s what I was looking for: transformative powers. And for so long, it’s just taken a beating perceptively?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 14:22
Absolutely. And I mean, I grew up in an Indian house where you know, Irv, though you know that that was medicine in my house. My parents always looked at allopathic medicine as the last resort. There was always let’s look for plant medicine prevention. You know, that’s the ideology of the house that I’ve been in. So for me, this plant was just like another plant. I didn’t have that sort of moral or ethical conundrum inside my house with this plant. And quite frankly, you know, what’s really interesting that I think a lot of people don’t know is that When the United States really formed, it was required by every apothecary in this country to keep cannabis oil because it’s one of the best anti-inflammatories naturally available. And, you know, and really, you alluded to, you know, early politicization of the plant, you know, the way that it’s been used historically in this country to keep folks in jail and to bury stems that are just simply not the whole story right, there’s this is a plant that has, you know, dozens and dozens of cannabinoids and we all like to talk about only two of them THC and CBD right. And you know, I’m in an industry where granted, I know, you know more than the average person, but there’s so much exciting research that needs to be done on all the other cannabinoids that do incredible things. But we’ve been under an embargo to study this plant, there’s no federally funded research of the cannabis plant in this country for decades. And so you know, luckily, we have other countries who have been researching this plant and finding some pretty phenomenal things out about it. But all of those things, that’s all to say that as a business owner in this country, those things don’t, that doesn’t matter, right? Like I can’t talk about those things, I can’t mark it with those things, because those are not again, we’re, this is still a federally illicit plant. The FDA has not said anything about what its value is medicinally. So those are not things that we can really talk about, we can talk about it as a recreational plant, or, you know, so it’s, it’s an interesting from a business perspective, it’s an interesting problem to solve, because, know that the consumers, like yourself, understand, oh, this is really good for anxiety. But, you know, as a brand, I can’t tell you that. Yeah, I can tell you what my consumers tell me, they tell me that, you know, they, they can’t sleep without certain products, or, you know, they manage their anxiety or, you know, really interesting, like, contrary to common belief, you know, there is a lot of research, research around focus and cannabis and how you know, some of these cannabinoids can actually help you become more productive. So there’s all this interesting stuff that needs to unfold. And that’s the space that gets me really sort of excited about the future, because we haven’t even cracked that piece open. We can’t even, you know, we’re like, we’re we’re in this world with our hands tied behind our back. Button. Also, I feel incredibly fortunate, because I know that this is, you know, these are those early days when you know, all of the important things are happening, you know, that that set the tone for what this, how this plant will be received by the masses. So that’s to me.
Lauren Conaway 18:00
Well, in what’s really fantastic, I think, and we’re going to talk about this after the jump. But I think what’s really, really fantastic to me is the fact that you have found a way and Leune has found a way to tie this, this very holistic, very helpful, but much maligned plant. And it has found a way to marry it to that social justice piece. And so we’re going to talk about that in a little bit. But first things first, I’ve got to tell you a little bit more about Full Scale and Full Scale is their Startup Hustle sponsor, we love them. That’s where our producers come from. It’s our team. And they’re amazing. But the other thing that they do, they know that finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be hard, they’re there to make it as easy as possible. When you visit FullScale.io. You can build a software team quickly and affordably with a team of folks who are just in your corner there to help you. You can use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. See what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team? Visit FullScale.io to learn more. And just as a reminder, folks, we are here with Nidhi Lucky Handa, CEO and founder of Leune And so we’ve talked a bit about cannabusiness the cannabis industry. You know, we’re but we’re going to talk about something a little bit more deep at this moment. And I’m going to ask you, you know, we’ve kind of alluded to the advocacy and activism that you as a founder engage in and that Leune as an organization is there to support so talk to us about that piece.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 19:35
Yeah, um, firstly, Lauren, I have to say like, I’m so impressed by how easily you pronounce my name. It’s like the joy of listening.
Lauren Conaway 19:44
It’s, it’s, I got to tell you, you know, it’s not that difficult. So thanks, but you know, bare minimum.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 19:55
Your hands growing up, my parents have an interesting sense of humor. You know, raising Kids outside of their native country with names that are hard to pronounce. But in any event, thank you, I have to give you that compliment. And on the social justice piece, I will say this, I feel like it is not only a moral imperative for anybody working inside the legalized side of this space to you leveled and proud and to find a way to get involved with getting the 40,000 some odd people still serving time in prison in this country, in states where cannabis has become legalized for nonviolent cannabis offenses. Right, just a picture of what that means for listeners who are like, well, what is that? I mean, imagine if you are in a state like California, where you know, we have a massive recreational legalized cannabis program. And there are still people serving time for things like having a joint in their pocket 20 years ago. Yes, real people have lost their families, their parents, their children, and their ability to be functioning members of society. And it is, you know, I don’t think I have to spell out and certainly you understand the complexity and problem with that. So from where I said, you know, I am super passionate about this as a human being. But I also feel very, very clear in the mission statement of my brand, that if we are going to participate in this space, at this time, nobody sleeps until this gets reconciled. The good news is that it’s happening. And there are now amazing organizations that are completely dedicated to this work, like the last prisoner project. We were very, very, very proud supporters of that organization, they work toward, you know, literally focusing on individual stories of folks serving time and getting them out of jail. And that’s what we need to do. educate the masses on this point, because, you know, this is one of these ugly pieces of our history that we cannot ignore, particularly when there are now so many states in this country who are collecting massive amounts of tax revenue.
Lauren Conaway 22:31
So there and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re gonna have a lot more data on this, but it’s my understanding that at least here in the US, you know, a lot of the political politicization. Wow, I couldn’t say that word around the prison complex, what is it that I keep on referring to that does relate to profit. I mean, the fact is, we have for profit prisons here. It is profitable. It is a whole cottage industry. That is it deliberately victimizes people and it comes on the tails, in many cases, for many people around cannabis around possession around, you know, strikes and all of these, like really horrific chapters in our history where we have, you know, torn about torn apart families, and we have, we have victimized people who didn’t deserve to be victimized. And so I love the fact and I think what is so impressive, is that you are in this industry that is innovating and disrupting, and it is, you know, this is new news, you’re not following a blueprint, you’re not following a roadmap, like nobody has really done this before. And you as a founder and Leune, as an organization, are finding ways to bake in that activism and advocacy from your very early days. And you’re making that a core principle that you operate by not just something that you do. And I think that that is just so impressive. I mean, thank you for that.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 24:00
Well, thank you for saying that, Lauren. And I’ll just say that look, I think that, you know, like most things in business, and I think most entrepreneurs can relate to this, there is a combination of hard work and strategy. And then this other thing, timing. Yeah, right. Right place, luck, however we want to say it. And I feel like I’ve been fortunate in that, concurrently to this to coming into this industry. Our value system as consumers has shifted towards caring about things like mission, you know, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, it was very taboo. You know, if you’re talking to a brand publicists or strategists, they’re saying you don’t want to say anything divisive. You don’t want to market anything that would alienate any consumer who wants the right to be in Switzerland. And today we know that that’s not true at all and that consumers not only care about the value system of what they consume or the brands of what they consume, but they also tend to make decisions, you know, with quite a lot of weight. So this is all to say that, you know, it’s, I feel like I have been very lucky to come into the space at a time when, you know, our, like the overarching the Overlord strong pillars of the universe have also allowed for us as a brand to talk about things like this, because, you know, listen, at the end of the day, consumers who buy cannabis are looking, generally speaking to relax, right? Not to stress anybody out. So engaging in a conversation about social justice reform, the industrial industrial prison complex, you know, the racism and you know, the myriad of other issues entangled in this plan is not an easy or turnkey conversation to have. But it is also one that I think we can intelligently and we I’m really proud of my team here at Leune because what I’ve been, you know, honestly, the thing that that I always like, the biggest jackpot I hit is the team that I have, I have this like group of people who are so lit from within and value-aligned and get it makes all the difference. Because what it means is, is that the content that we put out on social media, the way that we message our products, or respond to a crisis or support, you know, organizations that we believe in a, it’s authentic, but be it’s also delivered in a way that’s not patronizing, because this is a fine line for any brand or any business, right, you never want to run the risk of patronizing or making your consumer feel bad about themselves. Right. That’s not the point. But we’ve, I think, been fortunate there’s been a lot of, there’s been a lot of sort of stars aligning to get us to a place where we can talk about the things that we’re passionate about, and always have a SKU on our menu where 100% of the proceeds go back to cause we are very, very passionate about not just, you know, sort of organizations like last preserve project, but also supporting social equity license winners in you know, what that means for folks outside of the the industry is, you know, a lot of legalized states are issuing social equity licenses. So, cannabis being a licensed product means that at every level of the supply chain, there are licenses that are given out at the government level. So a certain percentage of them in most legal states are reserved for folks who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, right? What is in those people could be children of people who have been in jail, or people who were put in prison for, you know, something like having a joint in their pocket, whatever, it is really important, right to give those folks an opportunity to be successful in this industry or to be part of, you know, of that solution. So one of the organizations that I really have been a part of for four years, as long as I’ve been in the industry, is momentum. It’s a social equity incubator, which chooses 1010 people every year, who get $50,000 grants with no equity taken, you know, usually these incubators make money. This one doesn’t, it’s just all about not just the cash, but the support. So setting these folks up all over the country with legal resources, marketing resources, educational resources, you know, mentorship, you know, a mentor, or, you know, who are trying to figure out right, you mentioned a bunch of hurdles that one might find how do you market in this industry? How do you there is no banking law really, you know, like, there’s, there’s so many things in this space that there is literally no playbook for. So I’m really excited about that type of work as well. Because, you know, it has to happen from every side, we have to look at it, you know, how do we build an industry that feels like something we can all be proud of when we go back? While we did this, right? We’ve got all the analogies under the sun that were like alcohol post prohibition or we’re like pharma or like tobacco or we’re like wellness. It’s like, you know what, we’re not we’re, I’m sure a whole new thing for sure.
Lauren Conaway 29:51
Well, and I love what you said. I’m gonna go back to something that you said earlier, because you mentioned the moral imperative piece. It’s just very impressive. I don’t know a lot of entrepreneurs unless they are entrepreneurs who have found social impact ventures. But I don’t know a lot of entrepreneurs who think about the moral imperative of their business. I mean, generally, as entrepreneurs, we are conditioned to think about profit, we are conditioned to think about stakeholders and investors and all of those very fancy sexy things that mean absolutely nothing for the community we serve. And so what you’ve done, you were talking earlier about the consumer, but you’ve created not just a win-win situation, you know, there’s the business, there’s lun that has the potential to profit. And there is the consumer who is able to purchase these products, that’s a benefit. But you’ve also created a, you know, when you were talking about that, the consumers need to care about their brand and to think about the to be very intentional and conscious about where they play, they intend to place their dollars, you know, every time you buy something, it’s a choice. And finding organizations that have created this opportunity to not just end up with the product, but to do good in the world. You know, you’ve created this, this kind of mutual benefit. That it’s a really, really fantastic business model. I love social impact ventures, because I do not think that profit is anathema to purpose. You know, we talked about social impact ventures as a business with a calling, you know, and so you’ve just created this, I hate I hesitate to use the word feel good, because that sounds like it’s pandering or condescending. And I don’t mean it that way. But you’ve created an opportunity for a consumer to not just purchase for their own benefit, but to do good in the world. And that is such a huge opportunity. You know, you’re benefiting so many people with one business model, and you’re getting it on the ground floor. Actually, I’m going to ask you this, do you feel like placing impact and then placing care at the center of your business? Which is what you’ve done? Do you feel like you are inspiring or giving permission to other businesses around you to do the same?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 32:18
Absolutely. I will for any Lauren, by the way, preach because like I can’t like everything you’re saying I completely agree with and not to make this about gender. But I think this is where female founders and entrepreneurs maybe have a little bit of an advantage, which is not a thing you ever hear anybody’s saying.
Lauren Conaway 32:37
I will take any advantage we can get.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 32:42
Natural multitaskers and problem solvers. And, you know, I think that we all kind of largely know that there’s a problem with, you know, business models that are not for profit, not always, but very often are not well run because they’re not run like businesses, right? Conversely, for profit businesses, for some reason have been put into this bucket of well, if it’s for profit, then there’s like the quote-unquote, a man who’s like somehow, like, you know, sort of like rubbing his fingers together. And I don’t know, like burying all his money under some like, I don’t know, there’s like these two very annoying mustaches
Lauren Conaway 33:20
counting coins like I’m definitely feeling so is it Scrooge McDuck vibe?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 33:29
It’s like, well, you know, here we are living in a new world that that over the last 15 years has started looking very different, like business looks like we think about direct to consumer models, or, you know, crowdsourcing or a lot of these new businesses that we I mean, if somebody told you 15 years ago or two I don’t even know how old Uber is, but that you get into the car with with some stranger would pick it up. If you know, living in LA when Uber was launching and people being like, Oh, this thing will never take off. I would never get into the car. You know, I mean, we live in a moment of time where there’s an opportunity to do things differently right not to not to you know, sort of discount the experience or the models of business and economy that work but to say okay, that’s cool, but how could we maybe like you know, as one of my employees says, feed two birds with one seed.
Lauren Conaway 34:28
Wait a minute, hold on, I just need to say I love that analogy so much better than killing two birds with one stone that is so much more healing and fulfilling as a state I’m going to do you mind. Can I start using that?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 34:40
You can give credit to Allesandro who fed two birds with one seed.
Lauren Conaway 34:45
Okay, I guess.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 34:48
It’s impossible to use that expression and not think about, you know, the one that we all use. You know, kill two birds with one stone and be like, wait, why do we need to kill.
Lauren Conaway 35:00
When you think about it objectively, like that’s a really terrible phrase. I don’t want to kill birds. I like birds.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 35:07
Exactly. So yes, you know, I think that, you know, what, what is driving me is this idea of, hey, I’m super lucky. And I’m very aware of that to just be in this industry to be a part of this conversation at a time when it’s all unfolding. And if I can use this platform for more than just selling cannabis, but also to write some of the wrongs or contribute to or educate people, you know, I always say to my team, and we very much have this value in helium. But listen, just you know, if you, if you’re invited to a party, and you don’t have a lot of money to bring some fancy bottle of champagne, bring something, bring anything, bring some pepper tap, right, like show up. And we’re a small company, and like everyone in our industry funding is a challenge, everything is a challenge, just show up to the things that you’re passionate about, that you care about your value system. And for me, what that looks like, is when I first started the brand, and really had no money in this brand was, you know, in early days, it was very much an after school project. For me, I did not anticipate it taking off as quickly as it did. And I started, you know, researching organizations that were doing good work. And the last preservation project was one that came up and I called them and I said, Hey, I’m really inspired by what you’re doing. But I don’t have any money. But how can we help you? You know, what do we want? What can I do? I have a really creative team here at Leune. Is there anything that we could do to meet any content? Is there anything else? You know, how can I help? And they, you know, they were like, Absolutely, yes, we’re trying to get, you know, folks out of prison, if you can help us make videos that, you know, might get shared and go viral? And we did, we made these great videos. And, you know, within a year, we saw, you know, the two the two folks that we were focused on, both get out of jail. And, you know, and it’s not because of our videos alone, but it is to say that right that the idea is just show up, just do something and I think that often the paralyzing force for business owners is, well, I can’t make an impact. So what’s the point? Right, and are you aligned with you know, in and this is where that conversation about performative like anything being performative activism comes into play a lot. And to that I am, you know, particularly in my industry, my feeling is, I really don’t care what your motivation is, if we’re going to do good, do good.
Lauren Conaway 37:44
Oh my gosh, I love that. You just said that so much. I’m so sorry. Like, you heard my gasp when you said that, because most people, you know, doing the work that I do, I’ve definitely had a lot of conversations. And I remember one specifically, where somebody was we were talking about, I want to say it was like parental leave or something. But we were talking about the importance of parental leave and how it’s one of those great equalizers. And but we were talking about the fact that as it pertains to parental leave, people have this. Well, they have this idea that it’s like laziness or what have you in the fact is, it’s not, it’s a great benefit to everyone that we create safeguards and safety nets and things like that for people who have been historically excluded. And so when we’re talking about these things, I just got really excited as you were talking, because the fact is, like, if you Institute parental leave, I don’t care why you did it. You know, I have so many women who would benefit from having that available as an option. I don’t. I am not performative. The fact is, we’re still putting unnecessary tools and resources into the hands of people who need them. So I don’t care what the motivation is at all. Just do.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 39:07
I think that’s you know, if we can really get aligned and you know, spend a more time you know, looking in the mirror at the end of the night and saying you know, listen in business, you have to put on a lot of different you have to wear a lot of different hats and wear a lot of different faces to you know, do you have your fundraising mode and you have your you know, your operations mode and you’re creative, there’s all these different things you have to do but at the end of the day, you have to go home, you have to look yourself in the mirror and you have to like what you see and you have to be able to honest right and inside that space that you know however much time that is in your day. You are in alignment with the things that are important to you. And I found that you know this industry that I’m working in is to call it challenging is such an understatement. Every day is an exercise in adrenal Fatigue, it is just the high highs and the lowest lows and the curveballs and everything in between. But the thing that I’ve learned the most is that you have to have that cliche about, you have to one day wake up and realize that life is about the process and not the destination. And in business, that’s the hardest thing, right? Because we think about KPIs and goals, and where we are going, and you have to still, you still have to shoot for those goals. But if you are really inside that space of the process, and then that part of that process, I really do believe, and maybe I’m an idealist here, but I really do believe that most people want to do something good. They just don’t know how to do it, or they don’t know what the mechanism is. And in the business you like, you’re always understaffed and underfunded. And it feels like, well, how can I think about, you know, how can I think about anybody else, when I’m just trying to keep myself alive in my company? And yeah, you know, I would just say, you know, the amount of and I see it in my team, the amount of morale, confidence, just alignment, that comes from having a shared value, I quit, there’s no metric that I can put around that. So if anybody listening is looking for a reason to become, you know, just just more socially active or loud or proud or anything. I think it’s something if you’re looking for culture builders, inside your organization, it’s a pretty fantastic way. You know, when people say that giving and charity is the most self-serving thing you can do, I think most people who do those things, yeah, really understand the fundamental truth in that.
Lauren Conaway 41:45
So, yeah. Now, and I think that that is, that is perfect, perfect advice for our listeners. I mean, the fact is, we all want to make a profit, you know, as founders, none of us want to be broke. We all want to be able to survive and thrive. You know, I’m not gonna lie, I like nice things. And it doesn’t make me a bad person. But I would say that, you know, to all of our entrepreneurs listening at home, you know, just try to do some good with business, you know, find ways. And I mean, I’m not saying, and I don’t think that Nidhi is saying that we have to, you know, make our entire business, social impact ventures, like we can all be social entrepreneurs. But we can all do good in this world, we can use our platforms, and we can use the channels, and we can use the products and the initiatives that we’ve built to look at business in a more holistic way. How can we do business, do it well, but also be good humans and be good to each other? And so I think that that is a perfect ending note. I’m about to ask you the human question. Are you ready? Here it comes. I’m ready. All right. So you have an unlimited amount of money. But you have to spend it on yourself. You can’t spend it on your business. You can’t spend it on people around you. What do you buy? What do you do? It can be an experience if you want? What do you do with that?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 43:13
So hard for me to answer this question. Because the first place my brain went, you know, Oprah style.
Lauren Conaway 43:21
Like giving 1000 that you see, that is exactly why I asked the question. I didn’t know because, as a social entrepreneur, I know that you have that servant-leader heart. You put others first, and so no, I’m saying put yourself first. What do you want?
Nidhi Lucky Handa 43:34
You know, I think that the biggest luxury for me in my life right now is time and time to cook. I dream about a world where I have this beautiful kitchen where I can be cooking for, I don’t know, like 18 hours a day. So for me, the first thing would be like just building this dream kitchen that I’ve got in my head. Because that is really one of my passions. I love to cook and travel. I just absolutely, and COVID has, you know, robbed us of time. Having said that, I’ve been to Barcelona, London, and India in the last year, and there will never be a time in my life when I won’t spend money on travel. So I think those are the two things.
Lauren Conaway 44:22
Okay, well, you took two. I’ll allow it because they were both good ones. So, I gotta tell you, that sounds beautiful to me. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a blast chatting with you. This is me, well, and I learned a lot. I learned a ton, so thank you for that.
Nidhi Lucky Handa 44:43
This is, honestly, so much fun. And it’s so nice to step out of the weedy universe into the real world. So I appreciate you taking the time to chat, and I had so much fun.
Lauren Conaway 44:59
Good. I’m so glad. So, friends, in my pre-show prep, I just need you to know that I tell guests that my goal is for the guests to say that it was more fun than I thought it would be or that it was really fun. So anytime it happens, I do a little happy dance. But thank you for that. You’re very kind. Again, just thank you so much. And again, one more thank you to our episode sponsors, FullScale.io. Definitely check them out. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, they can definitely help. They have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. So that you can focus on the things that drive your business forward while they handle the mess of that technical assistance. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions, and then you can let their platform match you up with a fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, definitely want to point you to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. We just did a series highlighting them, and I’m inviting you to check it out to talk about LaunchKC and some of their products, programs, and initiatives. They do amazing work, so definitely check them out as well. Friends, we are very grateful to you. And the fact that you come back and listen to us week after week after week. We invite you to keep doing so and tell us what you want to hear. We want to tell stories that will resonate with you. And we will catch you on the flip side.